Official Ranking of Best Colleges

Top Colleges Rankings by TTP's Admissions Experts

29 APRIL 2013
Each year, Top Test Prep publishes an official ranking of the best colleges in the US. This ranking is based on objective data such as acceptance rates, alumni contributions, peer ratings and reviews, strength of undergraduate programs, and endowment. This is an official list of top colleges.

Best Colleges Ranking:  The Official Guide

Top Test Prep studied the nation’s top colleges, both college and university institutions. Using metrics like class size, variety of majors available, freshman retention rate, alongside interviews with students and admissions personnel, our college rankings experts have ranked the Top Twenty college in the country. Check out the list below to see the best of the best colleges.

The Best Colleges in the US - Official Ranking

1. Yale University

Simply the best of the best, Princeton is always neck-and-neck with Harvard, but wins out in this ranking due to a more tangible emphasis on its undergrads. At the same time, Princeton’s research and graduate side is a powerhouse.

2. Harvard University

Harvard sets the standard for universities worldwide. With massive offerings, brilliant faculty and student body, as well as top-flight facilities and research opportunities, Harvard could top this list as easily as Princeton.

3. Princeton University

The best school on the West Coast, bar none, and a clear choice for a top three position. Fantastic science programs and research opportunities are paired with a focus on areas traditionally considered the province of the liberal arts college, like languages.

4. Stanford

Without doubt, Yale’s academics rank among the best of the best. Political science, humanities, government, and a host of other subject areas are Yale’s strengths. Yale opens doors for its graduates.

5. Columbia University (6.95%)

Columbia University, in New York City, offers some of the best and most rigorous programs in the Ivy League, and does all of it from its surprisingly tight-knit campus. The best of both worlds in many ways, Columbia offers small-school focus in a big-school setting.

6. Dartmouth College (10.14%)

The most rural of the Ivies, Dartmouth actually benefits from the seclusion with the bonus it receives to campus life and the increased focus on its undergraduate students and the time that they will spend there.

7. Williams College (17.28%)

The best of the small liberal arts colleges, Williams has everything that a well-rounded student could desire, including an incredibly small class size and a level of access to professors impossible to find at larger institutions.

8. University of Chicago (16.26%)

Chicago is known for the rigor of its programs. This is absolutely a school for the academically serious undergraduate. At the same time, the city’s proximity offers a welcome diversion from studies.

9. MIT (9.73%)

Famous for its unmatched science and engineering programs, MIT also places emphasis on the humanities for its undergraduate students. This is the place to go for “hard science” on the East Coast.

10. University of Pennsylvania (12.43%)

Intellectually impressive, and socially active, UPenn offers a range of programs which blur the line between undergraduate and graduate education. This often allows students early access to Ivy-level research professors in a small-school atmosphere.

11.  Pomona College (14.03%)

Rigorous academics, strong all-around programs with a variety of majors, and exemplary student retention make Pomona one of the few exceptions to a field that is typically dominated by the Northeast. The weather is a plus.

12. Duke University (13.99%)

Duke University offers some of the most highly regarded academic programs in the country, and truly emphasizes the undergraduate experience. Modeled on the Ivies, Duke provides rigorous school work without detracting from the rollicking social atmosphere of a large Southern school.

13. Brown University (8.91%)

Brown, out of all the Ivies, certainly offers the least restrictive and most open-ended program of study. Students are encouraged and supported by the faculty in their quest for intellectual fulfillment and the “right” course of study.

14. Swarthmore College (15.08%)

A highly intellectual student body, with rigorous and varied academics. Swarthmore prides itself on fostering a “life of the mind”. On paper, the smartest of the small liberal arts crowd.

15. Cornell University (17.97%)

Housed in beautiful Ithaca, New York, Cornell has a heavy focus on its undergrads. Should they continue at Cornell, they can continue on into the graduate schools of Medicine, Engineering or the top-ranked Veterinary Medicine or Hotel Management schools.

16. Amherst College (13.32%)

Typically vies with Williams for the top spot in the Northeast liberal arts schools, combining strong athletics with an academically superior environment, Amherst is a perennial contender and the most selective of the “Little Ivies”

17. Middlebury College (18.32%)

Traditionally known for its powerhouse language programs, Middlebury has also made itself a leader in the fields of environmental science and activism. Middlebury’s academics are highly rigorous, and their schools abroad are unmatched.

18. University of Virginia (33.27%)

One of the very best public universities in the nation. Incredible access to research opportunities, as well as the Jeffersonian approach to undergraduate education. Charlottesville is an amazing college town.

19. UC Berkeley (21.6%)

Traditionally a center for activism, Berkeley has maintained its reputation for academic inquisitiveness and open-minded study. At the same time, Berkeley’s best graduate programs continue to groom students for engagement with public and civic careers.

20. Northwestern University (18.03%)

Located at a happy distance from Chicago, Northwestern is close enough to put its students in striking range without scattering them in a fully urban campus. Northwestern is particularly known to those studying journalism and medicine.


These college rankings are based on objective data such as acceptance rates, alumni contributions, peer ratings and reviews, strength of undergraduate programs, and endowment.  This is an official list of top colleges.

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""We're excited to provide these college rankings, and hope they provide students with ample data to assess colleges and universities."" Zach Bills, Top Test Prep Admissions
""I am delighted to have approved these college rankings, and look forward to helping students get into the best colleges."" Ross Blankenship, Founder TTP and Admissions Expert
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